Road Safety, Kauai
There’s only one big road that connects all sides of the island (doing a semicircle actually as west side doesn’t have a road) which means in rush hours there is traffic, especially between Lihue and Kapa’a where local police gives one extra line depending where the big flow goes (in the morning they give priority to the those who go into Lihue for work). From the other side you wont enjoy much of the island without the car because there’s limited public system and taxis are way to expensive for long distances.
Lihue aiport is at the east side which is pretty central to the main highway so if your hotel is at this side you will have both (North and Side) sides at the same distance. West side of the island doesn’t have roads anyway.
Here are your options:
1)The hotels usually have a shuttle service to the airport so only in case you plan to relax in a luxury resort don’t rent a car.
2)There supposed to be some local buses along the main road but we barely saw 1 or 2 of them all the days we were there!
And they stop only in some bigger towns.
3)There are also some taxis that will costs way too much… You can take taxi tours too around the island, you won’t pay less than renting a car but you won’t have to worry about directions etc
4)hitch-hiking is a good option if you are really on budget. It is legal in Kauai and usually someone will get you from one town to the next.
5)Kauai is a natural paradise but you will need to rent car if you really want to get around…
…So rent a car upon your arrival at Lihue airport. It’s better to book in advance to get some great offers they have from time to time. In high season some cars aren’t available so booking in advance will help you with this too. You can choose between many companies (Alamo, Dollar, Herz, Nationalcars etc) most of them have similar prices (about $50 per day for a compact car but you can also rent convertible, SUV etc). All of them have their desks opposite the baggage claim area and usually they get you with a small shuttle to the cars area. We had booked a compact car (which is the economy class in USA) but there wasn’t any of them available so we upgraded for free to a bigger one. In case they ask you if you are interested for an upgrade just say no, they ask you because they will give it to you anyway. For free of course, unless you say yes ;) Don’t forget to put full insurance too
Gas is pricey in Kauai ($3.40 per gallon on October 2009) with many gas stations along the main highway (the further away you drive the more expensive they get, Princeville Chevron has the highest price in the island). You can see a list of the stations and gas prices here:
The speed limits are usually low and everyone respects the law so it will be very easy to drive around (the roads are in good shape too).
PLEASE: Understand the "rules" of the road on Kauai before getting behind the wheel.
#1) On the one-lane bridges: FIrst come, first serve - and usually the proper thing is to allow 4-5 cars cross and if you are #6 and see others on the other side waiting to cross and a pile of cars behind you: STOP and wait your turn to cross once you see the traffic coming from the other side stop for you.
#2) As we say; "Dis ain't the mainland - SLOW DOWN!!!" -- at the same time: If you are having a leisurely drive and wanting to soak it all in: PULL OVER and allow traffic to pass you, and then continue on your leisurely dirve and ENJOY!!!!!!!!!!
#3) BE SAFE. And remember: Street laws apply regardless of the fact that you are on vacation. Obey the speed limits & street signs - and PLEASE: wear your seatbelts --- and finally: Don't drink and drive....
On the north shore, there are several bridges. They are only wide enough for a single vehicle. Therefore, they cannot accomodate 2-way traffic. Be courteous!